Outlander star Sam Heughan has recalled queuing for free theatre tickets in Edinburgh when “money was tight”.
The Scottish actor, who has played highland warrior Jamie Fraser in the hit time-travel series for around decade now, first fell in love with theatre after moving to Edinburgh as a teenager. But in his memoir Waypoints, out now in paperback, he reminisces about the times he would wait in long lines to get free tickets to see productions at the Capital’s Royal Lyceum Theatre.
Earlier in the book, Heughan tells how his family moved to Edinburgh so his mother could enrol at Edinburgh College of Art. He spent one year at James Gillespie’s High School before enrolling at the Edinburgh Steiner School, where an earlier interest in acting was rekindled. The teenager wanted to see as many theatre productions as possible, but the family couldn’t afford the pricey tickets.
Looking back on it, he writes: “With my interest in acting rekindled, my mum encouraged the fire by taking me to see plays at the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh. Money was still tight, but sometimes the theatre offered free preview nights.
“We’d have to queue early in the hope of getting tickets, which earned us the chance to watch a play as the cast and crew smoothed off the last rough edges, and as the house lights faded, I’d find myself transported by the story unfolding on stage.”
Heughan continues: “During my teenage years, I saw all sorts of plays in the making. My favourite had to be the modern Scottish adaptation of the legend of King Arthur. It was called Merlin, but it swapped out the swords and sorcery for an urban backdrop featuring burned-out cars and fires burning in braziers.
“With the cast in army fatigues and the production underscored by beautiful, dramatic live music, I was completely blown away.”
In August, Heughan revealed that his favourite spot in Scotland is in Edinburgh. Asked for his selection in an interview, he opted for Mary King’s Close, a supposedly haunted close underneath the streets of Edinburgh. The actor described his visit there as a “terrifying” experience – adding that he adores Edinburgh as a whole.
He went on to praise the city of Edinburgh, saying: “I just love that city, the wynds, the closes going off the Royal Mile, especially.
“The city underneath the city, which we actually shot in for Men in Kilts, it didn’t make it to the edit, but Mary King’s Close, when they had the city and it’s still there, you can go, there’s streets underneath there and shops and everything. It’s terrifying. It’s like something out of Harry Potter, it really is. And if you haven’t been, please visit Edinburgh.”